Cerberus, Hades, and the Archdiocese of Boston

I have seen several news reports about the possibility of the $25 billion-dollar investment firm, Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. coming in to rescue Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston by taking it over and turning it into a profitable venture. Writing about the possibility of such a deal being finalized, Yvonne Abraham, columnist for the Boston Globe, voiced many concerns “and not just because the buyer is named for the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell.”  Foremost in her  list of concerns are such things as the elimination of services that aren’t profitable—like mental health services, the closing of hospitals that don’t generate enough money and the provision of less free care to those in need.

Caritas Christi’s hospitals and related services have been described as conforming to a religious mission, respecting the sanctity of human life from “the very beginning of life to its natural end.” In an appeal to Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, Raymond T. Neary, of Pro-Life Massachusetts (an American Life League Associate group), wrote, “The proposed contract between Caritas Christi and the Steward division of Cerberus should be rejected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as it comes with a heavy monetary cost down the road for the citizenry – as well as containing a delayed removal of the Christian ideals on which Caritas Christi rests and has built its reputation.”  He then went on to quote the Caritas mission statement which is “…servicing the physical and spiritual needs of our community by delivering the highest quality care with compassion and respect,” and expressed his fears about the hospitals losing their Catholic identities.

Neary is not alone in this fear. Many Catholics in and around the Boston area have been speaking out about this proposal. Among the most vocal opponents of the deal is C. J. Doyle, director of the Catholic Action League, who recently issued a public statement containing these words:  “It is now clear, that with this sale, 147 years of Catholic health care in Greater Boston is coming to an end. This will have adverse consequences for Catholic medical ethics, including the protection of human life from conception to natural death, for the conscience rights of Catholic and other pro-life physicians and nurses, and for charitable care for the poor.”

Not only that, but we have learned, “The sale agreement requires the new management to continue adhering to Catholic moral principles in its medical procedures. However the new ownership has the option to terminate that aspect of the agreement by paying an addition[al] $25 million to an approved archdiocesan charity, if it finds that adherence to Catholic moral standards has become ‘unlawful or materially burdensome.’”

But we already know that adherence to Catholic moral standards is unlawful for any hospital that participates in the Massachusetts universal health care insurance program (the model for ObamaCare), because the program requires participants to provide abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc. In fact, the archdiocese’s inability to participate in the Massachusetts program is precisely the reason why Caritas is unprofitable and is being sold. So the termination of Catholic standards is inevitable. Why the charade to mislead the public that Caritas will remain Catholic?

Even before the formal termination of Catholic standards, adherence to those standards by the new owners will be questionable. We followed up on this and found the “Stewardship Agreement” that has been filed with the state of Massachusetts. One section (4.4) addresses the establishment of “ethics committees.” It is clear from the document that even though the Archdiocese of Boston is tossed the bone of being able to appoint an ethicist, the owner of the hospital will actually be paying this “ethicist” by reimbursing the archdiocese. So whose ethicist will contribute to discussions? This is a dangerous situation in view of the new health care reform law which encourages rationing and other forms of euthanasia.

Is the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades now poised to devour the Archdiocese of Boston’s hospital system? The evil one’s traps are always cleverly appealing.

It is imperative that concerned voices be heard. If you would like to contact the Catholic Action League or the Attorney General of MA regarding your thoughts about the possible takeover by Cerberus, follow one of the links below.

To contact the Catholic Action League and get involved: http://www.catholicactionleague.org/

To contact the offices of the Attorney General of Massachusetts to register your concerns: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=cagohomepage&L=1&L0=Home&sid=Cago

Additional background  information can be found by reading the article “Caritas Christi: Is Catholic Healthcare in Boston Being Sold-off for a Few Silver Coins?” http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/caritas-christi-is-catholic-healthcare-in-boston-being-sold-off-for-a-few-silver-coins/

Pray that the archdiocese sees the danger and says no!

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